Dennis & Maree Courtney
Australind, Western Australia, Mk1 Escort Twin Cam
THE BUILDING OF OUR ESCORT TWIN CAM – XOO
Back in the late 60s and early 70s when I had a
full head of hair and considered myself bullet proof, I used to
Rally and Rallycross a variety of vehicles including Mk1 Cortinas,
Mini Cooper S and XU1 Toranas. When we married and started a family,
the wild excess and expense of motorsport dictated a break to pursue
more sensible things. Well now our three kids have grown up and
are largely leading their own lives, we fine ourselves as typical
empty nested baby boomers, a bit of spare cash and the opportunity
to do some not so sensible things.
Naturally my attention turned to the things of
my youth. My wife suggested that as my age now qualified me as a
classic driver, I should think about restoring a classic car. She
even offered to navigate in classic rallies. I think the offer was
motivated by visions of leisurely putterings through the sunny countryside
following easy instructions that inevitably lead to a winery lunch
Our spare cash did not stretch to an E type Jag
or something equally grand. I’ve always wanted a Lotus badge
so we decided to restore an Escort Lotus Twin Cam to 2nd generation
specifications applicable in Europe in 1970.
This vehicle was the final development by the Ford
Works Team of the 1558cc Lotus Twin Cam engine prior to it being
replaced by the more powerful Cosworth BDA engine. The end of the
line as it were for a truly classic engine that had powered Lotus
Elans, Clubmans and the famous Lotus Cortinas for over a decade.
There was only a handful of these Lotus powered
Escorts built in Europe in 1970. While Ford shipped their remaining
Lotus Twin Cam packs to places like Australia and South Africa,
these were only the normal run of the mill 1st generation production
models. The AVO 2nd generation bits were scarce and only available
This would be a rare vehicle at a reasonable price.
(Don’t ask me to define reasonable).
The registration we secured - XOO 355F - is that
of the first Ford "works" Escort Twin Cam to enter an
international event. The 1968 San Remo Rally; the driver, Ove Andersson
with John Davenport in the other seat.
The type 49 body was found rusting to death in
a Perth WA suburban backyard. Mike Van Den Rydt at Van Den Rydt
Racing Preparations is widely recognised as the expert in the type
of restoration we were planning. He agreed to oversee the major
work that was needed to restore it to 2nd generation specifications.
This shot show it after it was stripped back to bare body. Mike
seam welded and gusseted the shell. He also modified the underbody
to accept the competition suspension.
The shell was then relocated to McEntee Paint &
Panel shop for body preparation and painting. They are the authorised
Rolls Royce repairers for Western Australia and Wayne McEntee did
his training at Rolls Royce in the UK. This shot shows the fitting
of the factory flared guards. The body was also put on the alignment
jig and corrected.
After painting the body was transferred to the
speciality Motor Trimmers for interior restoration and fitting of
works rally dash and rollcage. The paint scheme is modelled on the
Ford works car which won the 1971 European Production Touring Car
Championship (It was Cosworth powered – the entire Works Lotus
Twin Cams were boring white).
The vehicle is now back being reassembled at Van
Den Rydt Racing Preparations. While it was away being painted and
trimmed, Mike rebuilt the engine and other mechanical components.
We will have our car on the road in the next few
weeks and the enjoyment of tinkering, tuning and roadside breakdowns
will become a large part of our recreation.
As with most of life’s pleasures, the journey
is as much fun as the destination. Mine will be a few circuit sprints,
a couple of club hillclimbs and chauffeuring a classic bride to
the local wineries on sunny Sundays. Hers will be telling me where
to go and knowing I must obey.
The kids think we are crazy. They are probably
right. We don’t care.
"I sold my twin cam 3 years ago to a guy for
Targa Tasmania. I think he
pranged it. Don't know where it is today.
I now compete in a turboed MX5. Great fun to drive
and a lot less time
keeping it on the road."